Exmoor Dark Skies Festival 14 OCTOBER TO 3 NOVEMBER
Over fifty events in celebration of Exmoor’s spectacular starry skies are set to take place across the National Park this Autumn
Venues across the National Park are taking advantage of its status as one of three designated International Dark Skies Reserves in the country. It is good to see the Festival will span three weeks this year covering the half term breaks for both Devon and Somerset as well as some quieter spells when the kids are back to school.
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The tranquillity and stunning landscapes of Exmoor make it the perfect place to walk, stargaze and take a break from the bustle of busy modern lives and we hope that through the Festival many more people will discover the magic of its night skies.”
The Festival caters for a wide range of ages and interests, with highlights for families including this year’s Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, a 360-degree planetarium experience in Dunster, Bampton or Barnstaple, or the National Park’s first ever Dark Skies Big Adventure with the National Trust.
Wildlife lovers may wish to partake in a guided starlit walk or dusk safari, ending with warming local produce supper or hot chocolate and marshmallows while the more adventurous might enjoy night mountain biking or a guided walk with an Exmoor National Park Ranger to see the Orionids meteor shower in peak flow.
Foodies will find countless opportunities to indulge in delicious astronomy-inspired suppers married with expert talks and stargazing.
Astronomy enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice with guided stargazing opportunities, talks on choosing the right telescope or the latest astronomy apps, plus the chance to hone astrophotography skills.
Children up to 16 years can also enter an Exmoor dark skies-inspired story writing competition, with the winner getting a free astronomy and space workshop for their school, hosted by Jo Richardson of Somerset-based company ‘Space Detectives’.
Many people have never experienced what it’s like to look up into a truly dark sky, see the thousands of stars and feel that inevitable sense of wonder.
Exmoor tourism businesses, farms and organisations including the National Trust, Forestry England, South West Lakes Trust and Exmoor Pony Centre have all teamed up with the National Park to ensure there’s something for everyone throughout the three-week festival period.
PROGRAMME The full programme of events is available at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.
AVAILABILITY – Woodcombe Lodges availability
First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park has an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles – stunning coast, moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland and more than 800 miles of rights of way to enjoy. It is one of 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom and in 2011 was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.